Congress has left for the August recess without finishing work on the Farm, Food and Jobs bill, which expires on September 30. A five-year reauthorization passed the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan basis in June and July, respectively. House leadership did not to bring the House committee passed multi-year reauthorization up for a vote before the recess. House leadership attempted to pass a one-year extension of the Farm Bill, but that bill was pulled after NACo and many other organizations opposed it.
On Thursday, August 2 the House passed by a vote of 223-197 a stand-alone disaster assistance package (H.R. 6233) designed to help producers deal with the drought affecting more than half of the nation’s counties. However, the Senate did not take up the bill before the recess and is instead pushing for a multi-year reauthorization. The House package costs $383 million over ten years and will restore livestock indemnity and forage programs that have expired and provide tree assistance by cutting farm bill conservation programs by $639 million and contributing $256 million to deficit reduction.
NACo opposed the House’s one-year extension because it eliminated mandatory funding for NACo priority programs in rural development, renewable energy and beginning farmer, and rancher development (to see NACo letter click here). NACo will continue to advocate for passage of a multi-year Farm Bill reauthorization that maintains funding for all titles of the Farm Bill, especially rural development programs. This outcome is still possible if Agriculture Committee leaders are allowed to conference the Senate passed multi-year reauthorization with the House disaster assistance package. Leaders can then create a compromise bill based on the Senate passed bill (S. 3240) and the House Agriculture Committee passed bill (H.R. 6083).